November 6, 2007

Tomson Highway makes rare appearance at Native Arts Day

Hamilton, ON -  Tomson Highway, the internationally celebrated and award-winning playwright, will make a rare appearance in Canada as part of Ogwahsróni, a day-long symposium on Thursday, Nov. 8 focusing on Native Arts.

Highway, who now makes his home in Europe, will talk about his work and will perform several pieces under the title How to Make Lemonade Without Getting Too Tired. The inspiration sprang, he says, from the adage that “when you’re handed a lemon for a life what do you do? You make lemonade.”

Opening for Highway will be acclaimed Mohawk choreographer and McMaster alumna Santee Smith, who will debut several dances from her upcoming production A Story Before Time, the Iroquois creation legend, to be performed in a lavish production in December in Toronto.

“Ogwahsróni is Cayuga for ‘we all made it’”, explained Dawn Martin-Hill, director of the Indigenous Studies Program at McMaster University. “First Nations do not view art as an expression of the individual but as an expression of the collective. In this sense, Native Arts Day is a show of our shared creative spirit.”  

Ogwahsróni will begin with a show and sale of Native art organized by the McMaster First Nation Student Association in the rotunda of the McMaster University Student Centre from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will feature a variety of arts including basket weaving, Iroquoian pottery, paintings and fine jewelry.  Raymond Skye will speak about his inspiration for his Iroquian artwork.

In the afternoon, art historian Armand Ruffo will give a lecture on the painting legacy of Norval Morrisseau. Ruffo’s talk will begin at 4 pm in the Council Chambers, Gilmour Hall, Room 111; followed by Highway’s and Smith’s performances at 7 p.m.

The full program can be found at

McMaster University, a world-renowned, research-intensive university, fosters a culture of innovation, and a commitment to discovery and learning in teaching, research and scholarship. Based in Hamilton, the University, one of only four Canadian universities to be listed on the Top 100 universities in the world, has a student population of more than 23,000, and an alumni population of more than 125,000 in 125 countries.